Author Topic: No, I am not "faking" an injury  (Read 8094 times)

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TaurusGirl

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No, I am not "faking" an injury
« on: January 19, 2013, 10:19:03 AM »
B/G: I work at a gas station as a supervisor; my duties include unloading freight, stocking shelves, pumping gas, operating a cash register, and basically anything that needs to be done in a retail environment.

In the autumn of last year, I had what turned out to be fairly major surgery on my elbow. I was off work for 2 months, went back half-time for two months, and am now back full time. I am essentially 4 months into a 12-or-more- month recovery. (Can provide more detail on the surgery via PM if needed). The surgery was on my dominant arm, so it's been a rough ride.

Per my surgeon's orders, I am to follow my arm on what I can do, so basically in the mornings before it starts to ache, I am comfortable lifting/carrying stock, etc. By the afternoon the pain sets in, and I am better off working the register or doing paperwork etc. My boss is 100% on board with this, as are my coworkers. The problem, unfortunately, is coming from the customers.

As I've mentioned before, I live in a VERY small town, where everyone knows everyone's business. Every customer who comes in the door knows I was off work for a long time, knows it was because of surgery, and can see the huge purple scar on my elbow. The surgery site is still bruised & swollen, and by then end of a work-day it looks like someone hit me with a bat.

However, when customers are asking me to bring them items from the back, or asking me to fill their vehicles, and I politely direct another employee to do so, many customers go on the attack. "I can't believe you're STILL milking that surgery", or "Oh, right, your arm huuuurts soo much. I'm going to tell your boss how lazy you are". These things are not said in jest, and my boss has told me that several customers have claimed that I denied them service. (Again, boss is not taking these claims seriously as she knows my situation).

How can I firmly tell customers to back the heck off? I am not comfortable explaining exactly what was done to my arm, as it is gruesome and still upsetting to me... and it is also none of their bleeping business.

I have tried joking: "Oh, yea, I'm totally milking it. I smash my elbow with a brick every morning just to maintain the swelling, ha ha", I've tried complete silence... and nothing is working.

Help :(

ladymaureen

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2013, 10:30:57 AM »
That's horrifying. I can't imagine claiming someone is faking an injury, especially to that person's boss! Your responses would get your point across to anyone who wasn't quite dense, but I think you're past that point now.

Generally, I don't think it makes for a good customer service experience to confront customers -- but you shouldn't have to put up with abuse, either.

My suggestion is to be very direct. Make eye contact, and say to them in a pleasant but clear voice: "Why would you think that? Why would you say such a thing?" Then stop talking and look at them for a response. Make it clear you really want to know.

It's rare that someone will respond to this, but if they do say anything, say something like this: "I am not faking anything. I have a legitimate medical injury. Believe me, I don't enjoy having limited mobility. Rest assured I will go back to all of my duties as soon as I can."

Then move on ... go back to your work. If it happens again, repeat again.

Only the most churlish people will do this over and over again. All you can do is be polite and direct.

jaxsue

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2013, 10:37:35 AM »
Having severely fractured my left ankle last Sunday, and looking at 2-plus months of recovery (not to mention 2 surgeries). I am angry on your behalf, OP. That is boorish behavior!

Tea Drinker

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2013, 11:57:47 AM »
Can you "joke" back with them, something along the lines of "That's funny, I don't remember you going to medical school" or "I didn't realize you were hiding in my doctor's office during my last appointment. I'd better warn them that the place is bugged"?
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cicero

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2013, 12:42:38 PM »
that's terrible! I am shocked that people will actually go to your boss.

I wouldn't joke about it. I would go with silence. OR i might say (to those who threaten to go to my boss) "sure. Sue is in her office, right up those stairs."

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Surianne

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2013, 12:52:47 PM »
Ugh, how frustrating.  Is there someone else around to give them the service you can't?  If so it's extra bizarre that they're making these comments.  If there isn't, do you think they're upset about not getting the full service they're used to?  Perhaps talking to your boss about another way to get customers stock from the back and the other things they need would help?

Amava

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 01:49:32 PM »
I would be tempted to say something like "Wow, thanks so much for your compassion".
But that would be neither etiquette-approved nor wise in a environment with customers.
Maybe "What an interesting assumption"?

How well do you get along with your boss? Can you ask your boss for suggestions on how to deal with these people?

If I were your boss, I would be hopping mad at the customers who say such things.

Anyway, the best I can think of, if you don't want to ruffle more feathers with them, is to just look at them as if they've grown two heads. I wouldn't even have to act it if I were in that situation, I would be baffled! Who says such things?

MamaMootz

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2013, 02:13:30 PM »
I would try to joke it off at first, and say something like, "Wow, I had to bring my boss a doctor's note - didn't realize I needed one for customers, too!" but in a jesting tone with a smile.

But that might not be taken well, if they are serious and complaining about you.

Honestly, I would probably follow what cicero said if the joking wouldn't work in this situation.
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TaurusGirl

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2013, 02:21:46 PM »
Thank you for all the replies! (also WOOHOO 100 posts!)

My boss is behind me 100%, and she has spoken to the people who have complained directly, telling them that she wasn't aware they were surgeons and thanking them for their medical opinions.

Because this is such a small community, I see these people every day whether I am working or not. Joking back is risky because there are a few people in town to take great offense at my being appointed a supervisor in "their" town, as I am new-ish here. I am also a different ethnic background from 85% of the town, and this has been a factor before. Many of the same customers who complain that I am lazy have also addressed me as *ethnicity*-girl. So to avoid starting any arguments, I think I will continue with complete silence, and the occasional "how kind of you to take an interest". I just hope I can pull it off without coming across as aggressive.

JenJay

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2013, 02:48:55 PM »
"Boss is aware of my injury and supports my recovery but I'll be happy to page him/her if you'd like to make a complaint." Then reach for the phone with a "Shall I?"

Nine times out of ten they're going to back down (although probably still be a jerk about it) and not bring it up again. That tenth person can get set straight by the boss.

Rohanna

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2013, 02:58:19 PM »
I dislocated and broke my elbow a year ago- I still have pain at full extension and have to be careful with over-heavy lifting. It's surprising how hard it is to heal an elbow- my physiotherapist says it can be one of the toughest joints to heal. Good luck with yours -
Mine has healed fantastically given how badly I damaged it- so I'll wish my good karma on you too :)
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AmethystAnne

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2013, 03:36:43 PM »
TaurusGirl, I'm so sorry for your physical pain and for the customers' attitudes. I'm glad that your boss has your back.

Would it be possible to wear an elastisized brace** on your elbow all the time that you are at work until you are healed? It would address 2 things: it would remind you not to overuse your elbow, and it would be a visual clue to customers that you are not 100% healed.

**bonus points if the brace contrasts with your skin tone.  ;)
 




Amava

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2013, 04:45:42 PM »
Thank you for all the replies! (also WOOHOO 100 posts!)

My boss is behind me 100%, and she has spoken to the people who have complained directly, telling them that she wasn't aware they were surgeons and thanking them for their medical opinions.

Because this is such a small community, I see these people every day whether I am working or not. Joking back is risky because there are a few people in town to take great offense at my being appointed a supervisor in "their" town, as I am new-ish here. I am also a different ethnic background from 85% of the town, and this has been a factor before. Many of the same customers who complain that I am lazy have also addressed me as *ethnicity*-girl. So to avoid starting any arguments, I think I will continue with complete silence, and the occasional "how kind of you to take an interest". I just hope I can pull it off without coming across as aggressive.

Yay for your boss!!!  :D

SamiHami

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2013, 05:53:35 PM »
I would not make any kind of joke about it. Their rudeness is not funny. The only response that I would give would be, "I am following my doctor's instructions and do not appreciate you stating that I am faking or milking my injury. If you are unhappy with my service please feel free to discuss it with my manager."

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JoyinVirginia

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Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2013, 10:17:44 PM »
Do you have a sling you could use? I broke my elbow last year and could use it some as it healed, but using the sling some of the day helped remind me to not do too much with it. Sometimes a visible reminder of an injury will get the message across to people better than anything you could say